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Friday, December 28, 2007

Happy New Year Recipe

posted by on December 28 at 17:34 PM

OK, admittedly, I’m posting this in part to knock Josh’s Freedom Socialist press release off the bottom of Slog. BUT, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t guarantee yourself luck and riches with black-eyed peas and greens on New Year’s Day, believed to bring prosperity because they resemble coins and cash. (Why it’s called Hoppin’ John, meanwhile, has been the subject of lengthy speculation). Anyway, here’s a recipe I like from the Lee Brothers’ Southern Cookbook, which I own and love.

Hoppin’ John

1 cup dried black-eyed peas or field peas (You can also substitute fresh, often available this time of year; just omit the soaking step and cook until tender.)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 smoked hog jowl, or 1/4 pound (3 strips) thick-cut smoked bacon
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
5 or 6 peeled whole tomatoes, or half a 28-ounce can, drained (optional)
1 1/2 cups uncooked rice.

1. Wash the peas in a strainer, and soak them for 4 hours in ample fresh water. When ready, heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a 4-quart pot, and brown the hog jowl on both sides. (If using bacon, omit the olive oil, and simply render the fat in the pot for 5 minutes.) Add onion, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add 6 cups water, black pepper, red pepper and salt, and bring to a boil.
2. Let mixture boil 10 minutes, and then add peas. Maintain a low boil, uncovered, until peas are nearly tender (25 minutes for black-eyed peas, 30 minutes for field peas). In a bowl, lightly crush tomatoes, and add to pot. Add rice to pot, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, 20 minutes.
3. Turn off flame, and allow hoppin’ John to steam in pot, lid on, for 5 minutes. If using hog jowl, remove from pot, and shred meat. Fluff hoppin’ John, and add shredded jowl. Serve.

RSS icon Comments


Hog Jowl? MmmMmm. Not. Ew.

Posted by subwlf | December 28, 2007 5:52 PM

Mama and Pooh-Bear is gonna LOVE this'un here recipe.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | December 28, 2007 5:56 PM

I'm not sure of where the term Hoppin John comes from, nor really care, but it does make me think it has something to do with 'hopping trains.' Which is fitting, because last night at the open-mic, there was a mild hobo theme running amok amongst the performers. Banjo, washboard, jew's harp

Oh, "Superboy and Supergirl", the 2nd song I played, went over like a lead balloon, just how i like it. What an amazing song!

Posted by June Bee | December 28, 2007 5:59 PM

Oh you can use canned black-eyed peas. It's much easier than the whole soaking and sorting thing, and I don't think it affects your luck.

Posted by catalina vel-duray | December 28, 2007 6:05 PM

So nice to see you've got the "ladies' news" so well covered, Erica. You're ready for the Big Leagues now. I'll bet Pamela Sitt is shakin' in her stillettos.

Posted by Erma Bombeck | December 28, 2007 6:12 PM

I LOVE this cookbook. Love. It.

Posted by Michigan Matt | December 28, 2007 6:46 PM

Can I do the Ladies news? I've always secretly dreamed of being Betty Furness.

Posted by catalina vel-duray | December 28, 2007 7:59 PM

Erma Bombeck LOL

Betty Furness LOL x 2

Give the lady a break, folks -- if a guy had posted this, you wouldn't be giving him shit, I venture to guess. Let's just be glad for a damn good New Year's recipe!!! (

And hog jowls rule!!! Although I am more of a pig's trotter man, myself.

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | December 28, 2007 8:10 PM

God, Erica, if your personal life is half as boring as the stuff you post on Slog, I feel sorry for you.

Posted by June Cleaver | December 28, 2007 8:33 PM

UGH! My mother used to serve this every NYD. Needless to say, I often went hungry that day unless I had some christmas cookies stashed. I'll just stick with bad luck, or no luck at all.

Posted by thehawke | December 28, 2007 8:41 PM

@ 9 -- You should deploy that cleaver into your own skull.

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | December 28, 2007 10:04 PM

Hey! I live to dispense housekeeping tips and entertaining hints! Ask any of my neighbors. I'm just a Beacon Hill Housewife who loves nothing more than a coffee klatch or recipe swap.

or something like that....

Posted by catalina vel-duray | December 28, 2007 10:22 PM

What kind of wine goes best with this culinary delight?

Posted by Bon Appetit! | December 28, 2007 10:29 PM

Jesus, June, if your personality is half as boorish as the comments you post on Slog, I feel sorry for you.

Posted by Dominic Holden | December 28, 2007 10:30 PM


Don't forget the collard greens, and perhaps a nice pie - apple or pecan.

Posted by COMTE | December 28, 2007 11:47 PM

Yeah, you lost me at "hog jowl."

Fucking gross, dude.

Posted by Damien | December 29, 2007 12:15 AM

I also hate foods I have never tried based on how the words sound!

Posted by lint | December 29, 2007 1:15 AM

First I will say that as a native Charlestonian (South Carolina), I'm very surprised and elated to see that you posted the recipe for Hoppin' John. A couple of years ago I asked my mom what's the difference between using field peas (also called cow peas) and black-eyed peas. Her response was field peas is the way it should be made. Black-eyed peas is the way whites make it. Either way, it tastes damn good. I've never tasted it with tomatoes though. That seems to be a different recipe called "Red Rice" that might be in that recipe book. It probably is since the authors are from Charleston.

Also hog jawl is also called either "neck bone", "ham bone", or "ham hawk". Whenever I say these to anyone, my accent comes out.

Good luck finding hickory-smoked ham bone and black eyed peas/field peas in this area. If you find it, post where you can get it. I'm sure all the southerners reading this in Seattle will clean that store out.

Also, if you really want to get that soul food flavor, replace the olive oil with some Crisco or lard. Yeah i know, not healthy but Hoppin' John's traditionally served at this time of the year.

Oh and I love collard greens cooked with a meaty neckbone.

oh when cooking the rice, NEVER EVER disturb the rice. in other words, don't open it until 20-25 min has passed. doing so before that will fuck up the texture of the rice. do this in front of some old southerners and you'll get slapped and bitched at.

Posted by apres_mois | December 29, 2007 3:27 AM

The etymology of Hoppin' John:

Most food historians generally agree that "Hopping John" is an American dish with African/French/Caribbean roots. There are many tales or legends that explain how Hoppin' John got its name:

  • It was the custom for children to gather in the dining room as the dish was brought forth and h op around the table before sitting down to eat.
  • A man named John came "a-hoppin" when his wife took the dish from the stove.
  • An obscure South Carolina custom was inviting a guest to eat by saying, "Hop in, John"
  • The dish goes back at least as far as 1841, when, according to tradition, it was hawked in the streets of Charleston, South Carolina by a crippled black man who was know as Hoppin' John.

Posted by apres_mois | December 29, 2007 3:40 AM

Yeah, all of those folk etymologies about a guy named John, or hopping of any kind, are all bullcrap. It's probably from a corruption of French Creole "pois pigeon", or pigeon peas, which is a relative of cowpeas. It is unmistakably African-Caribbean in origin, and is one of the most significant landmarks in American cuisine. When you eat it, you are consuming pure culture, truer than a book or a symphony. It is the centerpiece of a whole field of African-American pilaus, rice dishes cooked with some kind of pig fat and a legume or vegetable (try okra for the peas!).

Karen Hess is the authoritative source on the subject, but John Thorne in Serious Pig is also brilliant on the subject.

Posted by Fnarf | December 29, 2007 8:19 AM

My family (from La.) made red beans and rice with ham hocks.

I make it today, taking about 6 hours cooking time. It's a pleasure seeing friends who've never had it take one bite, then snorf it down.

Bigger pleasure: when the vegetarians join in. Yum.

That's proof it's good!

I don't know the derivation of Hoppin' John but I do know that dishes like this are found in Brazil, the Caribbean, and the American South, showing the connection to Africa.

And feel free to use pork chops and ham instead of ham hocks. Perhaps the originators of these dishes used hog jowl and the like because that's the only piece of the animal they got.

Posted by Cleve | December 29, 2007 9:36 AM

I've seen smoked ham hocks at the Safeway at 15th and East John across from Group Health. Don't know about cow peas, but they do have black eyed peas--I still have half a bag left over from last year.

Fannie Flagg's recipe at the end of Fried Green Tomatoes calls for salt pork or bacon, so I guess that's an acceptable substitute if the hog jowls are unavailable. She doesn't include tomatoes, fried green or otherwise.

Posted by RainMan | December 29, 2007 9:40 AM

Any kind of pork is acceptable. The whole point of the dish -- and all the best food -- is to make do with the ingredients you've got. Jowl, hock, neck, hambone, salt pork, bacon, lard -- use what you have. If you're using bones, crack 'em first.

If people start calling you "Hambone" you might want to lay off and eat something else for a while.

Posted by Fnarf | December 29, 2007 10:06 AM

I'm going to stick to ozoni soup, mochi, and beer, thanks.

Posted by Greg | December 29, 2007 12:07 PM

You can get smoked ham hocks just about anywhere. Safeway on 15th or even QFC on Broadway. And you can boil your greens with them too, although last night I sauteed some fresh beet greens with a little olive oil and garlic, not for too long, and they were great with the roasted beets. Happy new year!

Posted by kk | December 31, 2007 12:22 PM

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